It is indeed amazing that in recent past I have personally met a few people who initiated some discussions about the dramatic complexities portrayed in movie Bol which is 2011 Pakistani movie directed by Shoaib Mansoor.
Though, almost seven years have passed by and I have written nothing about it but witnessing the recent talks on it, thought of writing about the main points which has raised the concern of muslims and non muslims with a different perspective.
The movie was well received by the audience in general and it was considered as the one raising the much needed social issues related to muslim women who are as shown by the movie are considered burden as daughters, a reproductive machine sort of portrayal of her’s if she is a wife and all this is shown in movie Bol as backed up by religion Islam, somewhere.
The opening scene is the one where Mustafa was trying to convince Zainab, who was in prison and was soon to be hanged to death, to have a say, *to speak* about her story (Bol in Urdu), in order to inspire other for the change.
Zainab’s plea to have the media presence before her sentence to death was accepted by the President of Pakistan.
Just before her punishment, she narrated the whole story which then went in flashback as to what has happened and what triggered her to kill her own father.
The story unfolded and in short it was – she was the daughter of a father who was known as Hakim Sahib who was an ancestral physician.
The traditional medicine practise was getting replaced by the modern medicines practised by doctors day by day.
With low income and one breadwinner (Hakim Sahab) and many mouth to feed at home, the situation was becoming worse and worse but despite that all it was not stopping the Hakim Sahab’s earnest desire to have a son.
After seven daughters, the son who was called as Saifi was born but he had some effiminate traits (Effeminacy is the manifestation of traits in a boy or man that are more often associated with feminine nature, behavior, mannerism, style, or gender roles rather than with masculine nature, behavior, mannerisms, style or roles) and was despised by Hakim Sahib to an extent that he wanted to kill his own son the day he was born.
Hakim Sahib wanted a son badly because he thought his family’s financial conditions can be improved only if a boy is born.
Though his home was adjacent to the school boundary but then too he has never allowed his daughters to go to school after grade five and Saifi did not attend even for a single day.
The first spoken words (bol) of Zainab were to her sisters and mother who came to see her weeping and crying and sobbing, to see her for the last time before she is given the punishment.
The words were –
“Utaar pheynko in burqo ko, apni Zindagi jiyon. Aur ye meri aakhri khwaahish hi samjhna.”
And in the end of the movie it is shown that they all are without their hijabs and running the restaurants and have become quite rich!
So, somewhere the director has highlighted the hijab, and covering as the symbol of oppression and suffering!!!
While I was watching that scene, I was recalling how centuries ago, Shifa binte Abdullah, a woman, who used to cover was made the market inspector by Umar r.a (the second caliph of Prophet Muhammed pbuh) where she used to inspect that no adulteration was done in the items to be sold and the items are not sold underweight in the market. She was given a free hand by Umar r.a, she even used to give the punishments even to males then and there if found guilty.
Another classical example to quote – FatimaMuhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya, a Muslim woman who used to cover is credited for founding the oldest existing, continually operating and *first degree-awarding educational institution in the world*
And there are many examples to quote that hijab has never been oppression for females to earn in the limits observed by Islam.
But one can argue that we are not talking about those classical examples and movies/films are made to highlight the present social scenario of the common masses.
Well! You know where the problem is, the problem lies in the context where some families whose ignorance has made them in darkness are highlighted in the mainstream and where talking of liberation means being rebellious, against Islam and portraying the misunderstood, out of context things as the religious basis and hurdles towards the progress!
Zainab, herself said in the movie when her father and she had an argument on India Pakistan Cricket match, that his father should not raise his voice and hands on her but should convince her through aql (intellect).
I agree to this point of Zainab, this is what I want to highlight that if you don’t discuss/debate to other, especially to one’s own progeny and want to impose things forcibly to have the exactly same opinion as yours and interestingly yours opinion being the one self centered then obviously it is going to sprout rebellion.
It was interesting to see that India Pakistan cricket game with same controversial issue, the daughters in Hakim Sahib’s home were not allowed to show support for the Indian team.
Though, it is a just a sports but people still see it as a war and a revenge and cannot support the other side of the man made, “shadowy lines” (as said by Amitava Ghosh) of nationalism where if one supports the other side being on the other side of the man made boundaries then they may have to battle even with their lives!
Throughout the movie the craving desire for having a beta and treating daughters as burden is highlighted.
I understand that those who are ignorant of Islam’s basic teachings they are found everywhere with beard and without beards, they are found even in apparently looking religious families too but Hakim Sahib is shown throughout as a “religious one” who relies on Allah, and obviously his character is that of an oppressive one so at the receiving end, on the audience’s side the general message will go like that all Muslims in general who follows Islam are like this only.
The daughters are well cherished in Islam.
They are considered as nai’mat and rehmat (blessing and mercy).
Both males and females are equal in the sight of Allah swt.
Surah Imran ayat no 195
“I will not waste the work of any of you, whether male or female, the one of you being from the other…”
The males and females are both His creation and the better is the one who has God consciousness (taqwa).
Actually, it is the society, the culture which has made daughters as a burden.
We live in a society where the system is such that even on individual levels people see their own profit and loss and that profit and loss is always in monetary form, even the successful are considered those who are rich and have money to hoard.
The society has made cultures like giving dowry etc and this make one feel like daughters as a burden and nothing less, the boys are considered as the ones who will bring benefit by bringing the money in or helping the financial needs.
As I have already laid out, Islam doesn’t forbid women to work if there is need for it within the permissible limits but the case is such that the people we see today are either east or west, either they consider women as someone who should not even be heard, as her voice can also be a fitnah (trial) or the other extreme that is west where the women is made so free that she has enslaved herself to the definitions of those who benefit a lot by objectifying her in every bit.
Coming back to the movie again.
In one scene, Saifi was asked by her sister to be a mard, to which Saifi said “mard banna kaunsa mushkil ka’am hai, bhawein chadha lo, gussey se baat Karo, lo bangaye mard” to which his sister responded – “Sab aise Nahi hote Mustafa ko dekho”
Mustafa was then praised by Saifi.
I understand that the director Shoaib Mansoor tried to get away from generalising the image of “Sab mard burey hote hai”, but it was sad to see that the mard, Mustafa here was highlighted as the heroic one though he remained without a say or devoid of any action when Saifi was physically abused, and he was the one who introduced him to the workplace where he was abused, either he was not informed about Saifi’s being raped by the household members, in that case too it is weird as he was the one considered as a well wisher and if he was told then, no actions taken against the goons, obviously makes him a bad mard!
Infact, I found Zainab who nodoubt loved her sibling Saifi and grieved upon his tragic end, she always used to rebel against his father’s weird decisions, despite knowing that her father killed Saifi, it was astonishing that she was helping her father to come out of the trouble the inspector has created – the demand for money to keep silent on the murder of Saifi – another problem of the corrupt system where money is everything and can even buy the justice, she suggested to take the money from masjid funds and keep it later by selling the house.
Had she been so concerned and moved by her father’s wrong doings, he even being a murderer now, I wonder why she was helping him, may be because she thought that what will happen if he will go to jail – the only bread winner of the family and who will marry the daughters then.
But again the question arises who has made her think so, the society and not the religion because religion compels one to stand for justice and to speak truth even if it be against one own self. I wish she would have believed that Allah swt is Ar Razzaq, The Provider of rizq and should have believed that the rizq is not dependent to arrive only from her father’s side.
The way khinzeer was compared to Saifi by Hakim Sahib after killing his son as a justification that it was necessary to do so and even if he was makhlooq of Allah, he cannot be loved as even the khinzeer are makhlooq of Allah but they are not loved is his restricted mindset, he thought it to be his gheera (honour), what gheera is there in killing a human being who is born with such issues?
The gheerah (honour) would have been that he would have found the rapists and taught them a lesson so that this should not be done in future with anyone else!
But what to say when people have their own definition of right and wrong in the cloak of religion.
Hakim Sahib was seen consulting dewan e ghalib before killing Saifi and the random couplet made him feel like an ishara (sign) to go for the killing.
He was shown as consulting Holy Quran before marrying the prostitute for the sake of money he will be getting in return from the dalaal and I believe this was the height of madness, perhaps it can be decoded in a way where the self proclaimed religious people tried to justify and pacify their own soul by deceiving it that they have consulted God in such matters but on the receiving end again, with much pre conceived notions it will go as religion nothing but bogus.
Well! The conversation about Khuda, rizq, and the hadees on having more kids between Zainab and her father Hakim Sahib was perhaps the main part of the plot.
Rizq is fixed and The One Who gives kids will provide was the Hakim Sahib’s take and he wanted more and more kids, to counter this Zainab has made her mother to go for permanent sterilisation process through which she cannot produce more children in future.
Hakim sahib came to know about it and Zainab confronted her father who said she did haraam by doing so and did not she know about hadees that the Prophet (pbuh) will feel good on the larger number of his (pbuh) ummati, Rizq is fixed and The One Who gives kids will provide was another arguement forwarded by Hakim Sahab, to which Zainab said –
Apka Khuda shayad Alag aur hamara Alag hai, why will the Prophet pbuh would say so and if rizq is fixed then did Allah’s angel have forgotten our address as there is no rizq at our place arriving?
Well! Family planning is an issue of debate still, some say it is not allowed at all, some say permanent sterilisation is not allowed unless and until it is a must go said by the doctor for the concerned woman, some say that even sahabas r.a used to practise azl,
With regard to ‘azl (coitus interruptus), or withdrawing during intercourse, the correct scholarly view is that there is nothing wrong with it.
As far as the hadees is concerned to have more kids is concerned yes that’s authentic and it is true that Allah swt is The Provider of rizq but the way people have taken it out of context is surprisingly weird.
Yes, Allah swt is The Provider and Ar Razzaq but He has asked to strive and make an effort for that, it is not like sitting at home and doing no effort or not trying to unlock the doors of other permissible ways to make means for the family and in need.
Once hazrat Umar r.a found some people sitting and doing nothing for their rizq and saying that they are having trust in Allah, He will provide, Umar (r a) rebuked them for it.
The problem with the world today is that they think resources are minimum and the cause of the problem is the overpopulation, no overpopulation is not the issue, the issue is the system where the distribution of wealth is very disturbing, where only few owns as much wealth as the entire other population, where monopolisation and privatisation is done on natural resources like water, coal mines, where the rich are becoming more rich and poor more poor to an extent that the gap is increasing day by day, where the main healthcare, job opportunities are provided mainly in big cities which cause people to leave their own places and move to such places making it more concentrated and claustrophobic.
According to Oxfam report and analysis –
“Hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top. There are more billionaires than ever before, and their fortunes have grown to record levels. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest got even poorer.
Many governments are fueling this inequality crisis. They are under taxing corporations and wealthy individuals, yet underfunding vital public services like healthcare and education. These policies hit the poor hardest. The human costs are huge, with women and girls suffering the most.
The number of billionaires has almost doubled, with a new billionaire created every two days between 2017 and 2018. They have now more wealth than ever before while almost half of humanity have barely escaped extreme poverty, living on less than $5.50 a day.
While the richest continue to enjoy booming fortunes, they are also enjoying some of the lowest levels of tax in decades – as are the corporations that they own.
At the same time, public services are suffering from chronic underfunding or being outsourced to private companies that exclude the poorest people. In many countries a decent education or quality healthcare has become a luxury only the rich can afford. It has profound implications for the future of our children and the opportunities they will have to live a better and longer life.
In most countries having money is a passport to better health and a longer life, while being poor all too often means more sickness and an earlier grave. People from poor communities can expect to die ten or twenty years earlier than people in wealthy areas. In developing countries, a child from a poor family is twice as likely to die before the age of five than a child from a rich family. We all suffer when public services are neglected, but women and girls pay the highest price. Girls are pulled out of school first when the money isn’t available to pay fees, and women clock up hours looking after sick relatives when healthcare systems fail.
Economic Forum in Davos, the development charity Oxfam said 2018 had been a year in which the rich had grown richer and the poor poorer.Oxfam said the wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe had increased by $900bn in 2018 – or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.
As a result, the report concluded, the number of billionaires owning as much wealth as half the world’s population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year.”
Yet inequality is not inevitable – it is a political choice and this is also said by Oxfam report!
Coming back to movie again,
The end part shows that the poor family was rich then after starting their own small start up of making and serving food BUT it was a movie and this happens not in general with the striving, hard working section of poors and is evident from the Oxfam report above.
Now, the movie Bol has ended on a note where Zainab has asked ke “maarna hi Kyun gunah hai, paida Karna kyun Nahi?”
The frustration can be understood of a female, Zainab who never got the chance to learn Islam, never had the access to search out the poverty issues and about population on internet BUT we are not Zainab to have no access to internet, not to think out of the box and see what Shoaib Mansoor failed to show us in reality and has highlighted only the superficial levels.
It was indeed sad to witness that when Hakim Sahib complained about Zainab’s behaviour against “Islam” to the masjid committee people, the people only reacted shockingly and said astaghfaar other than thinking of listening to her and clarifying her doubts. And that’s one of the real issue of our times, we don’t tackle the queries and doubts and doubt the faith of the person in a second, obviously when people are not aware and they only know what is said and conveyed to them in ways which are improper and out of context then they may feel alienation from Deen.
The earth is still rich with many resources to fulfill the basic needs of all the human beings.
China’s recent one child policy has shown how it has made them to suffer in long run and they have to rethink about their decision on population control as the young ratio became less and the older generation was more in numbers when they tried the one child policy.
There are countries who welcome having refugees like Canada, and there are countries which promotes having more children and having different appreciative policies in having more children.
When Prophet Muhammed pbuh quoted this hadees encouraging on having more progeny then it should not be only read out of context he (pbuh) also laid the system in Madina where the poverty was abolished, where the women bodies were not so weak as these days are prone to, where everything we eat has been adulterated from harmful antibiotics to many other things to get the monetary benefits in short time. Things when read and understood out of context will obviously create a havoc.
Obviously, I am not saying that hadees is not valid now, but actually Islam is complete way of living life, if we take one thing and neglect other things, aspects then it will not benefit us the way it was meant to be.
Today, the scenario is such, the system has been designed so, that even raising one kid is more than a tough task to handle.
And in context of wives, there is a beautiful hadees (saying) of Prophet Muhammed pbuh which is more than sufficient to say it all – “The best among you are the ones who are best to their wives.”
Will end on the note where the movie ends – that the President of Pakistan wants to discuss the question asked by Zainab, with all people from scholars to bureaucrats that “Maarna hi kyun jurm hai, paida Karna kyun jurm nahi? Haraam Ke zariye bachcha paida Karna hi kyun jurm hai, jaayaz bachche paida karke unki Zindagi haraam kardena kyun jurm Nahi? Logo ki samjhaaye bheek mangey pehle hi bhout hai aur paida na karey aur Jab khilaa Nahi sakte to paida kyun karte ho?”
So, this all will be questioned and observed by the President of Pakistan with other bureaucrats and scholars, ironically all these will be observed and asked by the ones and with the ones who are part of this very system and support it without any deep concern for the poors in general and in reality.
So, all in all Bol was considered a bold movie as it raises the social reality, but to me it just touched the superficial levels and portrays the people in power as concerned ones on this subject of suffering, it would have been really a bold bol if Shoaib Mansoor has dared to show the in-depth analysis and made people to think about it all.
I have tried to raise some major points.
Hope it clarifies inshaAllah.